Exploring work-life balance practices in the United Kingdom and Italy
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This paper studies the similarities and differences between the United Kingdom and Italy in implementing Work-Life Balance (WLB) practices. Semi-structured interviews were conducted in two operations of the same company focusing on the same business entity, with offices present in both UK and Italy. Even though both countries must comply with the regulations outlined by the European Union (EU), it was interesting to investigate whether the countries’ specific national policies and cultures differences affecting the employees’ perceptions about work and the weight they attach to various WLB practices. The findings showed that the over-working culture is an issue for the UK employees and most of those responding were women, emphasising the UK reliance on female labour force and the possibility of part-time arrangements. In the Italian case, the working hours were not an issue, but the employees referred to the lack of part-time working arrangements. The traditional “male breadwinner” culture was somewhat persistent in the Italian office. The data revealed that the way the employees of both countries perceived WLB practices had some similarities and differences. This research concludes that the cultural and pre-existing institutions indeed influence the development and implementation of WLB practices.